Let’s face it — when do we ever get enough vacation? Kevin and I just got back from Spain where we spent 3 days in Madrid, including an easy side trip to Toledo.
We fell in love with Madrid — the food, all the museums, the shopping. Oh and did we mention the food? Seriously, I feel like we need a serious juice cleanse for the next 2 months! And maybe a membership to the nearest megaformer pilates studio?
Below is a 3 day itinerary in Madrid covering all the best spots and of course all the incredible food. We couldn’t get enough. The itinerary also includes a side trip to Toledo (aka, the land of Don Quixote). Like all our itineraries, you can easily scale back for more time to chill out or perhaps take in a siesta!
- Arrive in Madrid — Yay! You made it. Time to hit the ground running (or take a quick cat nap)
- 3 PM, Grab some fresh churros at Madrid’s famed Chocolateria San Gines (open 24 hours! You know, for those late-night churro cravings. This could be dangerous.)
- 4-5 PM, Check out the food spread nearby at San Miguel Market. The mother of all food halls! Something tells me today we’ll be eating a lot.
- 7-11 PM, get a fantastic overview of Spanish culture by joining Native Spanish Tapas Tour for their History and Tapas evening walk.
- This is a wonderful way to kick off your trip to learn about Spain’s history and culture.
- If you’re jet-lagged, you can also get out and exercise, which helps with the time adjustment.
- Meets in central Madrid at Plaza Isabel II, Metro stop: Opera.
- 11 PM, hit the sack! You’ll be plenty tired, trust us. We recommend the “Only You” Boutique Hotel.
- 10 AM – Noon, Explore El Rastro Sunday Market (open Sundays from 9 AM – 3 PM). Note this market is only open on Sundays so adjust your schedule accordingly.
- While you’re there, we recommend making a quick stop for ice cream at Mama Elba in El Rastro.
- 12-1 PM, Grab lunch on Calle Cava Baja, one of Madrid’s most characterful streets known for its extensive selection of tapas with a bustling atmosphere. We highly recommend Txakolina, a Basque tapas bar where you can just point at the food on the counter!
- 1-3 PM, Get your “art fix” at the Prado Museum. We aren’t into big museums — in fact, it puts Kevin to sleep within minutes! I recommend a game plan to explore this huge museum — and narrow down the paintings to a handful to check out. If you see one thing in the museum, make iconic “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age.
- 3-4 PM, Explore Retiro Park, located just behind the Prado Museum. We loved just wandering the park and seeing how locals just chill and enjoy daily life.
- 5-7:30 PM, free time to relax, rest or enjoy some shopping. I personally loved all the gifts and cute items at the local Spanish franchise called Ale-Hop (multiple locations across the city)
- 7:30 PM, If you like tapas tours, we recommend checking out Spanish Tapas Madrid. Luis offers a completely different experience than the previous night’s tapas tour. And you get ice cream at the end!
- The 3-hour tour meets in Central Madrid at Puerta del Sol Square
- If you’re done with tapas tours, we recommend relaxing with a drink in hand on the rooftop terrace at the Circulo De Bellas Artes
- 9:20 AM, Board the Renfre train to Toledo
– Atocha Train Station (Madrid) to Toledo
– 2nd class car ($18 USD pp)
– 30 min ride, arrival at 10 AM
- 11 AM, Join a free walking tour with Cuentame in Toledo (English)
– Meeting point: Zocodover Square, 10 minutes before.
– 2-hour tour, wraps at 1 PM. No reservations necessary — just show up.
- Why visit Toledo? UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site for its extensive cultural heritage. It boasts 2,000 years of history, and is filled with small hidden squares, winding side streets and historic buildings and monuments at every turn.
- History buff? The Roman, Moorish, Jewish and Christian influences are throughout the city. Christians, Arabs and Jews lived there together for many years, earning this town the nickname of the “city of the three cultures.”
- 1 PM, Lunch at Restuarante Alfileritos 24.
- We recommend trying out their “menu del dia,” one of the most Spanish things you could do. This set meal includes multiple courses, wine and dessert.
- So sit back and enjoy your meal like a real Spaniard. The setting doesn’t get much better inside an old restored palace. Just note, you’ll beat the crowd as arriving at 1 PM since most locals don’t eat lunch until 2 or 2:30 PM!
- 4 PM, Return via train to Madrid, but before you do, make sure you pick up some marzipan at Santo Tome. I don’t even particularly like marzipan, but I changed my mind after trying it here!
- 8 PM, Make advanced reservations at Hammam Al Ándalus Baños Arabes
- Session at these baths run 90 minutes
- I recommend the “MIMMA30” Package, with a 30 minute massage and 60 minutes in the baths
- Don’t forget: Bring your bathing suit!
- 10-11:30 PM, Grab dinner at Restaurant Botin (advance reservations essential)
- Oldest operating restaurant in the world
- Famous for suckling pig, rated one of the world’s best
- We loved it — and such a memorable way to end your time in Spain. We recommend the seating in the basement – you’ll feel transported to another world
- 12 AM, Head back to your hotel and get some rest. Or get the night started — this is Madrid after all! And the night is young!